Eagle River Youth Coalition expands safe driving efforts and strategies

Hillary Higgins has joined the Eagle River Youth Coalition as its safe driving coordinator.

The Eagle River Youth Coalition is pleased to announce it is increasing its efforts to keep young people in the community engaged in their safety. In response to increased funding, ERYC has brought Hillary Higgins on board as safe driving coordinator to increase awareness surrounding distracted, drunk and drugged driving.

“I am really excited to engage youth in our community, help them make good decisions and be part of this process,” Higgins said in a ERYC release.

ERYC was awarded funds in 2018 for a three-year grant to increase Graduated Driving Laws awareness. Youth and their parents will begin benefiting, with education sessions, in the next few months.

Although Higgins is the safe driving coordinator, just like much of what ERYC does, this project is a collaborative effort which cannot be done alone. The work started in 2018 with a ‘No DUI’ Steering Committee comprised of local advocates, law enforcement and interested stakeholders. From that series of meetings and a community assessment, a plan of strategies was created. That plan will be implemented between 2019 through 2022, explains Mikayla Curtis, manager of strategic impact.

The goals are to increase sober transportation options, increase the awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs, support and aid the increase in local intervention and treatment options for substance abuse, offer more sober and alternative activities for youth and young adults, and provide more training to alcohol and marijuana retailers, law enforcement, educational professionals, employers and community members.

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Now that the details are in place, it’s time to delve into how the plan will work. How is ERYC going to implement these changes, educate young people and, ultimately, help make a change for the good in our community? Higgins is meeting with retailers and listening, engaging and starting to deliver the message.

About 800 students will learn firsthand the impacts of distracted, drugged and drunk driving at one of two safe driving events, which are offered annually at Eagle Valley High School and Battle Mountain High School. Young people will see the importance of staying sober and keeping both eyes on the road.

Higgins brings a wealth of experience to the position to help youth to be aware and make informed choices.Higgins was born and raised in Vail. She completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Northern Colorado. She has a Master of Arts degree in sociology. She pursued a career in Denver working with troubled youth and adults as a group facilitator for court-mandated classes. She also facilitated drug and alcohol, female offenders and DUI groups. Higgins then transitioned into the role of program developer. She is a registered psychotherapist and is pursuing her Certified Addiction Counselor hours through Denver Health Medical Center.

Overall, there is a lot on the horizon and ERYC is dedicated to making local roadways safer.

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